The CIPD as we know it today started life in 1913 as the Welfare Workers’ Association (WWA). We’ve been helping people and organisations realise their potential ever since, and today we’re the voice of a worldwide community of more than 150,000 members.

We first became known as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development in 2000, when we were granted a Royal Charter. Today we're known simply as the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

100 years of championing better work and working lives

The history of the CIPD

The CIPD as we know it today started life in 1913 as the Welfare Workers’ Association (WWA) with 34 members. The first meeting of the WWA took place in York, in the North of England, in June 1913. It was chaired by well-known industrialist Seebohm Rowntree and representatives from Boots, Cadbury and Chivers attended.

Welfare workers were concerned predominantly with the working conditions of female employees in the UK's factories, so it's unsurprising that 29 of the founding members were women. In 1916, it became compulsory for welfare workers to be appointed in all establishments controlled by the Ministry of Munitions. By the end of World War 1, around 1000 welfare workers had been appointed throughout the UK, 600 of whom were members of the WWA.

From 1917-1924 the association went through five changes of name. Against a background of wartime growth in the employment of welfare officers, local welfare worker associations had emerged across the country with no connection to the WWA. Concerned at the splintering of the welfare movement, the WWA adopted a new constitution with a branch structure that incorporated the local associations and renamed itself the Central Association of Welfare Workers (CAWW) in 1917. In 1919 the association opened its first office in London, and by 1924 the name had changed to the Institute of Industrial Welfare Workers (IIWW) by 1924.

The 1920s saw the emergence of a ‘labour management’ movement which had its origins in the appearance of Labour Officers during the war. More and more employers began appointing ‘Labour Officers’, mostly men, to assist in the management of recruitment, discipline, dismissal and industrial relations at plant level amongst unionised male workers. Labour Officers and Managers had little sympathy with the IIWW's exclusive focus on welfare, and very few joined it.

By the late 1920s, members of the labour management movement had become a loosely connected group and aspired to form their own professional association, quite separate from the IIWW. As a result, in 1931 the IIWW changed its name again to the Institute of Labour Management (ILM) reflecting the changing nature of the function. Its journal Welfare Work became Labour Management. In 1937, the ILM formed a branch in Dublin and by 1939, the ILM had a total of 800 members across the UK and Ireland, 60% of which were female.

In 1946 the Institute changed its name to the Institute of Personnel Management, to reflect its members’ increased focus on industrial relations and industrial training. In 1955, the IPM moved towards restricting entry into full membership via examination and introduced an education scheme which could be run externally by colleges in preparation for the national exam. This initiative did much to pave the way for an expansion in the number of colleges offering courses in personnel management in the years ahead.

In 1981, the IPM established its headquarters in Wimbledon, South West London, and in 1984 opened an office in Dublin to serve the growing number of members in Ireland.

In 1994, the Institute of Personnel and Development was formed through the merger of the Institute of Personnel Management with the Institute of Training and Development. Having achieved unity amongst the personnel, training and development traditions within a single institute, the newly formed IPD set about securing chartered status, an aspiration which had long been a matter of discussion within the former IPM. Chartered status was granted in 2000 and the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) came into existence from 1 July of that year. On 1 October 2003, the CIPD awarded chartered status to over 37,000 full Members, Fellows and Companions of the Institute.

In 2009, the CIPD launched the Profession Map, a dynamic and ‘live’ set of standards for the HR and L&D profession. It was created by the profession for the profession and sets the benchmark for what successful and effective HR and L&D people do and deliver across every aspect and specialism of the profession. The standards set out in the Map underpinned changes to the CIPD qualifications structure and enabled more direct routes into membership, including the launch of Experience Assessment in January 2010.

In 2013, the CIPD announced a renewed focus on its core purpose, and defined this as 'championing better work and working lives'. In the following two years, a review of the CIPD's brand revealed that such a broad and ambitious purpose called for a strong brand identity that encourages debate and dialogue among the HR and L&D communities. To support that ambition, in 2015 the CIPD unveiled a distinctive new look and feel across all of its communications. Market research revealed an appetite among some of the CIPD's members for a more radical change, including a change of name to better reflect the work that today’s CIPD members do. But the same research also revealed that although the word 'personnel' is outdated, the CIPD acronym is well recognised and still carries a great deal of kudos. As such, the institute took the decision to be known simply as the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

CIPD membership has been expanding beyond the UK and Ireland since the 1950s; members live and work in all corners of the world and increasing numbers have international interests and responsibilities regardless of where they’re based. In recent years, the CIPD has seen particular growth in membership in Asia and the Middle East, where it opened dedicated offices in 2011 and 2016 respectively. Members elsewhere in the world benefit from the institute’s international reach and relevance in a variety of ways, and the CIPD’s recent focus on becoming a digitally-enabled knowledge business is increasing the opportunities for HR and L&D professionals all around the world to benefit from its expertise and insights on the rapidly changing world of work.

The CIPD today

Today the CIPD is the voice of a worldwide community of more than 150,000 members committed to championing better work and working lives.

Through our expertise and research, we provide a valuable point of view on the rapidly changing world of work. And for our members we’re the career partner of choice, setting professional standards and providing the expertise to drive the HR and L&D professions forward.

Our current strategy is focused on ensuring that the HR and L&D professionals of the future can fulfill their true potential to champion better work and working lives. At a time of unprecedented change, we have the vision, the agility and the strength to make a real difference for our members, for businesses, for the economy and for all working people.

Our purpose and vision

Our purpose is to champion better work and working lives by improving practices in people and organisation development, for the benefit of individuals, businesses, economies and society

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Our Royal Charter

The CIPD is incorporated under Royal Charter and the only professional body in the world that can confer individual Chartered status on HR and L&D professionals

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What we do

Discover how we champion better work and working lives on a day-to-day basis, and read our annual report

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